Week 3, Father Abraham and the Challenges of Leadership

Participants in "Understanding Lincoln" explore various relationships through readings and panel discussions

  1. (June 24-25, 2014) This week in Carlisle, the "Understanding Lincoln" course deconstructed Lincoln's "Father Abraham" image --a nickname he first received in the summer of 1862-- that captured his growing stature as leader of the Union army, and then turned to a panel discussion that explored how the sometimes contentious relationships between civilian and military authorities have evolved since the Civil War.
  2. The seminar discussion relied heavily on resources from the "Father Abraham" page at Lincoln's Writings, which include five featured documents, an additional 25 Lincoln documents (including some rare odd-ball notes, such as his response to an offer of "combat elephants" from the King of Siam), five scholarly articles freely available on the web, and a short list of first-rate multi-media resources created by educators.  The nickname "Father Abraham" began as a line from a poem and a popular song and referred to Lincoln as a father-figure for the nation and army, but the category at Lincoln's Writings is designed as a more of a catch-all for exploring Lincoln's relationships with family, friends and subordinates.  There are documents and tools here for understanding his experiences as a husband and father, as well as in his role as commander-in-chief.
  3. The panel discussion Livestreamed from Dickinson College on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, featured Jeffrey McCausland (US Army War College) as moderator with panelists Conrad Crane (US Army War College), Paul Eaton (retired major general, US Army), and Matthew Pinsker (Dickinson College).   Their exchange lasted just about 90 minutes and can be viewed on the course Livestream channel. Moderator Jeffrey McCausland is a former US army colonel who served in Operation Desert Storm and now holds the Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute at the US Army War College in Carlisle, PA.  He received his Ph.D from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and previously worked on the National Security Council staff at the White House.  He is the author of numerous essays and articles and serves as a military analyst for CBS News. Conrad C. Crane is currently Chief of Historical Services, US Army Heritage and Education Center at the US Army War College.  Crane (USA, ret.) had a 26-year military career, including nearly a decade of service as a history professor at the US Military Academy at West Point.  He holds a PhD from Stanford University.  Crane was the lead author for the groundbreaking Army – USMC counterinsurgency (COIN) manual released in 2006.  Paul Eaton is a retired US Army major general who served more than 30 years in the US Army, including combat and post-combat assignments in Iraq, Bosnia, and Somalia.  From 2003 to 2004, Eaton served as Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq.  He previously commanded the Army’s Infantry Center.  Eaton has been a regular contributor to various network and cable TV news programs.  He is currently affiliated with the National Security Network.  Matthew Pinsker hold the Pohanka Chair for Civil War History at Dickinson College and also has been serving as a Visiting Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute at the US Army War College.
  4. Gen. Eric Shinseki from 02.25.03
  5. Arguments between presidents and generals have historically degenerated into irreparable conflicts.  Lincoln fired McClellan.  Truman relieved MacArthur.  Obama relieved McChrystal.  At the 25 minute mark, the panelists discussed some of the famous "firing" episodes and debated whether the trend has been moving away from what might be characterized as the nineteenth- and twentieth-century revolving door.  Here are a series of short and freely available articles that highlight some of the most notable frictions in the Civil War between civil and military authorities
  6. Conrad Crane also highlighted an article in the military journal Parameters by David Fivecoat that challenged some of the popular arguments that generals are no longer being held accountable for either performance or loyalty to the civilian chain of command in the ways that they once were.  Near the end of the discussion, the panelists also addressed several questions from course participants about the challenges of post-war occupation.  Here is a link to an important study authored by Crane and prepared for the Army in 2002 on how to "reconstruct" Iraq after a possible invasion.
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